The big match was at 10am between the Misfits and Penguins with each team on one win from two matches and both attempting to gain the upper hand in the battle for the second spot in the final scheduled for the Feb 16.
Upon winning the toss Misfits captain Mudasir Rehman elected to bat first. After the early loss of Stuart Hamilton to a “Jaffa” from Jason Robertson, Manish Sadarangani and Jeremy Bootsy began to assert themselves with some sensible batting before the impressive Delano Buchner removed the ever-reliable Sadarangani for 42 runs (off 29 balls) with the score at 82/2 from 9 overs.
Bootsy 54 (42) decided he was to be the lynchpin for the innings and continued to bat responsibly until he was finally out with the score at 143/3 after 16 overs.
The innings was bolstered and finished off with some hard-hitting through Rehman 30 (14) and Pir Sami 26 (13) to lead the Misfits through to a more than respectable 185/6 off their 20 overs.
The Penguins bowling was led by the consistent duo of Buchner (4 Overs, 24/1), Robertson (4 Overs, 28/1) and finally by Patong captain Seemant Raju (3 Overs, 34/3).
A required run rate of 9.3 meant the Penguins would have to bat well to make it back to back wins in the competition.
However, things did not start well for them.
With the score at 24/2 after the loss of the Patong openers, last weeks’ centurion Craig Morgan strode to the crease knowing that his team needed him to try and wrestle the initiative back from the rampant Misfits.
Unfortunately for Morgan 1 (2) and the Penguins, Pir Sami knocked his stumps back off an inside edge sending the Misfits into a jubilant celebration, acutely aware of the importance of the wicket.
A couple of further quick wickets and suddenly Patong were reeling at 57/5 with the heart of the batting line-up gone while also falling well behind the required scoring rate.
Patong’s number six Robertson looked to steady the ship with a combination of watchful play and hard hitting until he too was out, an absolutely stunning one-handed catch on the boundary edge by Hamilton that left one experienced and extremely knowledgeable audience guest describing the catch as “world-class!”
The loss of Robertson (who applauded the fielder claiming that he “smashed it”) effectively signalled the end of the run chase and the innings eventually closed on a “Nelson” of 111 all out; an emphatic 74-run victory for the Misfits.
It was a complete all-round team performance with the ball as they limited Patong to their lowest score in recent memory.
The Man of The Match was awarded to Pir Sami for a quality all-round performance, notably picking up the extremely prized wicket of Morgan.
Panthers mauled by KCC
The 2pm match-up featured unbeaten KCC and the winless Goan Panthers looking to stay in with an outside chance of a finals berth.
On winning the toss, Panthers captain Mayur Deuskar elected to send the KCC fielders into the hot sun in the hope of posting a healthy score give to then turn the pressure on the talented KCC batsmen.
The strategy was left in tatters, however, as after just two overs KCC had already taken three wickets. Arun Viridikar 21 (17) and Balesh Dessai 12 (10) offered a little resistance but KCC were not to be stopped as they steamrollered through the rest of the batting order.
The Panthers were all out for a paltry 79, coincidentally breaking the competition’s previous lowest score, which was posted by the Penguins.
The damage was done with ammunition to spare as paceman Waseem Ahmed was left on standby as Arif Mushtaq (3.5 Overs, 11/3), Asif Ahmad (2 Overs, 21/1) and “new boy” Abhay (1 Over, 10/2) took care of business for captain Imtiyaz Mushtaq and his side.
The total of 79 was never going to be enough and KCC had very few issues chasing the runs down, although they did lose their star batsman Zahoor Ahmad for just 9 runs. It was the only wicket to fall in pursuit of the 80-run target as Captain I Mushtaq 42 (29) not out and A Mushtaq 24 (22) not out guided KCC home with confidence and poise.
The Panthers never gave up however with the returning Paresh Borkar (4 Overs, 27/1) epitomising their strong spirit.
The Man of the Match award was given to A Mushtaq for a fine all-round effort.
KCC remains atop of the tournament table, now on six points, followed by the Misfits on four, the Penguins on two and the Panthers yet to show their potential although they will be bolstered by the return of the experienced and skilful Virdikar who will no doubt lead from the front after a game or two under his belt.